By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What brings greater comfort than a Teddy bear? A stuffed monkey or puppy, perhaps? Children’s Hospital received a special visit from a crew of Major League Baseball umpires Tuesday morning.

Fielden Culbreth is crew chief for the current Pirates series. But on this morning, he’s a father of three, reaching out to kids like 6-year-old Lexie Solomon.

He and his colleagues volunteer for a charity called “Umps Care.”

“The situation is tough,” the crew chief said. “And I look around and see all these smiles. And I’m telling you, it’s the right thing to do.”

For one brief moment, a child’s pain is forgotten.

Umps Care Charities began nine years ago. In that time, the arbiters of the baseball diamond have made more than a hundred hospital visits. That’s more than 10,000 Build-a-Bears.

Executive Director Jenn Plett says they do it simply because they want to.

“They raise all the money for this charity,” she adds. “They put in all the hard work. They put in all the effort. They’re the ones who want to do this, and believe in this, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Hispanic visitors are pleasantly pleased to find that umpire Manny Gonzales speaks their language. But the common language here is a smile.

Lexie’s mother, Amy Solomon, had a smile to match her daughter’s.

“Lexie’s in to have her appendix out today,” she explained. “And it’s been a really nice time in arts and crafts, and coming over to the Build-a-Bear Workshop, isn’t it?”

For umpires like Fielden Culbreth, it sure beats getting yelled at by rabid fans.

“It is certainly the right call,” he says.

If you would like to donate to Umps Care Charities, visit:

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